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Diagnosis: Debt—Mother and daughter left confused after owing more than what they were told

Posted: 7:42 AM, Aug 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-02 18:18:23-04
Janelle Botez is frustrated with a medical bill that was much more expensive than she thought

CLEVELAND — A local mother and daughter are frustrated after receiving a medical bill from the Cleveland Clinic that was more than what was estimated as an out-of-pocket cost by a financial advocate.

This story is all part of our on-going series "Diagnosis: Debt."

“I'm not really strong enough to be up against all of this,” said Janelle Botez. The 33-year-old from Richmond Heights suffers from a rare condition.

"Unfortunately, her muscles do not keep her joints from over-extending,” said her mother, Loretta Chadwick from Willoughby.

Couple that with severe fatigue and other ailments, and Botez is not in a good state of health.

“All of it kind of culminates into the fact that she can pass out and fall,” said Chadwick. “So, when she feels like it's coming on, she just goes down (to the floor).”

“How do you feel right now?” News 5 asked Botez.

“I feel pretty poor, because I feel like it limits my life in a lot of ways,” replied Botez. “And that's why I'm trying to get help from these doctors." One of those doctors ordered a diagnostic test, but Botez was very concerned about the cost. “I need to plan. I need to figure this out. Like, how am I going to budget for this,” said Botez.

"She has very limited access to work,” said Chadwick. “She works from home when she can."

Botez told us resources to pay her medical bills are scarce to begin with. So, she said she went into Cleveland Clinic and met with a financial advocate. That advocate laid out the procedure.

“And my daughter checked with her insurance and they said it would be a $40 co-pay…that was it,” Chadwick said.

Botez agreed to do the test in February of this year but later she got bills totaling nearly a $1,000 not $40. “Nothing out of the ordinary happened during that diagnostic procedure,” explained Chadwick. “There wasn't like an emergency like 'Oh, my gosh! She passed out or she had a heart attack.’"

Botez had made the effort to get answers ahead of time from both the hospital and her insurance company.

"If people come to you asking for pricing, know your pricing,” said Botez.

She and her mom went back to the clinic to get answers. “This woman's response was, 'Well, you know, I don't know, but you'll know for next time,'" claimed Chadwick.

News 5 contacted Cleveland Clinic. Reps said the charges were appropriate to Botez's insurance and deductible. They told us the clinic encourages patients to reach out to insurance plans to make sure they know what's covered and that the clinic helps patients through the process.

Chadwick is upset. “This is the tip of the iceberg with our entire healthcare environment today.”

There is a lot more talk this week about medical bills, in fact, from the Whitehouse. President Trump proposed an administrative rule that would make thousands of hospitals post the negotiated prices that insurance companies pay for procedures. If they don’t post them, they would pay daily fines.

Meanwhile, Botez still has many health issues.

“I want to be a normal person who can go and work a job and have a hobby and raise a family,” said Botez. “I can't do any of those things."

Her mom knows Botez is dealing with all of this poor health in addition to the financial frustration.

“It's not right and I'm not going to sit back and just watch it quietly,” said Chadwick.

So, here's what you can do about your medical debt problems. 5 On Your Side Investigators want to see your medical bills. Click here where you can explain what's happened, or you can email us at InvestigatorTips@WEWS.com .

We will be following up with your stories here, on social media, and during our newscasts.

RELATED: Diagnosis: Debt - We're shining a light on the medical debt problem

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